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From a Buick 8 [Hardcover]

Stephen King
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 23 2002
The state police of Troop D in rural Pennsylvania have kept a secret in Shed B out back of the barracks ever since 1979, when Troopers Ennis Rafferty and Curtis Wilcox answered a call from a gas station just down the road and came back with an abandoned Buick Roadmaster. Curt Wilcox knew old cars, and he knew immediately that this one was...wrong, just wrong. A few hours later, when Rafferty vanished, Wilcox and his fellow troopers knew the car was worse than dangerous -- and that it would be better if John Q. Public never found out about it.
Curt's avid curiosity taking the lead, they investigated as best they could, as much as they dared. Over the years the troop absorbed the mystery as part of the background to their work, the Buick 8 sitting out there like a still life painting that breathes -- inhaling a little bit of this world, exhaling a little bit of whatever world it came from.
In the fall of 2001, a few months after Curt Wilcox is killed in a gruesome auto accident, his 18-year-old boy Ned starts coming by the barracks, mowing the lawn, washing windows, shoveling snow. Sandy Dearborn, Sergeant Commanding, knows it's the boy's way of holding onto his father, and Ned is allowed to become part of the Troop D family. One day he looks in the window of Shed B and discovers the family secret. Like his father, Ned wants answers, and the secret begins to stir, not only in the minds and hearts of the veteran troopers who surround him, but in Shed B as well....
From a Buick 8 is a novel about our fascination with deadly things, about our insistence on answers when there are none, about terror and courage in the face of the unknowable.

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From Amazon

Stephen King, an evil car, and a teenage boy coming to terms with the fragility and randomness of life.... Wait, haven't we read this before? Diehard King fans, worry not. Aside from the titular car playing a main role in the story, From a Buick 8 could not be less like King's 1983 masterpiece, Christine. If anything, this story resembles King's serial novel The Green Mile, with reminiscing police characters flashing back on bizarre events that took place decades earlier.

The book's intriguing plot revolves around the troopers of Pennsylvania State Patrol Troop D, who come into possession of what at first appears to be a vintage automobile. Closer inspection and experimentation conducted by the troopers reveal that this car's doors (and trunk) sometimes open to another dimension populated by gross-out creatures straight out of... well, a Stephen King novel. As the plot progresses, the veteran troopers' tales of these visits from interdimensional nasties, and the occasional "lightquakes" put on by the car, are passed on to the son of a fallen comrade whose fascination with the car bordered on dangerous obsession.

Unlike earlier King works, there is no active threat here; no monster is stalking the heroes of the story, unless you count the characters' own curiosity. In past books, King has terrorized readers with vampires, werewolves, a killer clown, ghosts, and aliens, but this time around, the bogeyman is a more passive, cerebral threat, and one for which they don't make a ready-to-wear Halloween costume--man's fascination with and fear of the unknown. While some readers may find this tale less exciting than the horror master's earlier works, From a Buick 8 is a wonderful example of how much King's plotting skills and literary finesse have matured over his long career. And, most of all, it's a darn creepy book. --Benjamin Reese

From Publishers Weekly

King, we learn in an author's note, hashed out the plot of this gripper while driving from western Pennsylvania to New York. The first draft took two months to write. That's quick work, and it's reflected in the book's simplicity of plot and theme; unlike King's chewy last novel, Dreamcatcher, this one goes down like a shot of moonshine, hot and clean, much like Cujo, say, or Gerald's Game. In 1979, an odd man drives what at first glance looks like a 1954 mint-quality Buick Roadmaster up to a service station in rural Pennsylvania, then vanishes, leaving behind the car. The state police of Troop D deposit the vehicle in a shed near their barracks, where, up to the present, it remains a secret from all but cop colleagues for the car isn't exactly a car; it may be alive, and it certainly serves as a doorway between our world and... what? Another dimension? Another galaxy? The troopers never find out, despite their amateurish scientific investigations of it and of the weird beings that occasionally emerge from the vehicle's trunk: freaky fish, creepy flowers and more. Moreover, the "car" is dangerous: the day it appears, a state trooper disappears, and experiments over the years with cockroaches, etc., indicate that just as the car can spew things out, it will ingest them. While the book's relative brevity and simplicity does lend comparison to earlier King, and King has relied on a nasty car before (Christine), the author's stylistic maturity manifests in his sophisticated handling of the round robin of narrators (both first and third-person), the sharp portrayal of police ways and mores and the novel's compelling subthemes (loyalty, generational bondings) and primary theme: that life is filled with Buick 8s, phenomena that blindside us and that we can never understand. This novel isn't major King, but it's nearly flawless and one terrific entertainment.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...Satisfaction brought her back... July 13 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
From a Buick 8 finds Stephen King returning to the horror genre again. It was after the publication of this book that King announced his "retirement" - he feels that he's begun to copy himself, writing ANOTHER EVIL CAR story. Well, even so, From a Buick 8 is pretty good. It isn't so much an "evil car story" as it is about State Police Troopers and the lives they lead.
One day, twenty years ago, someone (an alien) abandons what seems to be a Buick at a gas station in western Pennsylvania. The police confiscate it and soon discover that it isn't a car at all. The central conceit of the book is how the police (unforgivably, if you ask me) keep an alien machine to themselves, despite how dangerous it is.
King has mellowed with age. His characters are older and more sedate. The story itself is fairly laid-back, although terrible things do happen. However, it doesn't have the kinetic energy of King's early work, and I think that is what the negative reviews are responding to. It is still a good, scary book however. King has not lost his touch for characterization or creating a richly detailed and researched world - you feel you know what it is like to be a State Trooper at the end of this. If you are a Stephen King fan, you will enjoy this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By debeehr
Format:Hardcover
FROM A BUICK 8 is a story typical of Stephen King's later work. In the theme of GERALD'S GAME, DOLORIS CLAIBORNE, BAG OF BONES and ROSE MADDER, Stephen King here is less interested in scaring you or in dealing with huge epic themes, as he has previously done in IT and THE STAND, and more interested in detailing the human relationships and the mundane events of everyday life. Here, he continues exploring previously-established themes of the way in which human beings deal with the unknown and the unknowable, and how people can continue to exist side-by-side with the supernatural. While not told on as large a scale as his earlier work, this book reveals a more mature King; it is a layered narrative with more subtle complexity to it than meets the eye on first glance.
One of the pleasures of reading Stephen King's large body of work is watching how he has changed and grown as an author over time. While not as flashy as some of his earlier work, this is a more accomplished novel in which King displays a quiet mastery of his craft as well as a maturity and control that could only come with age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's tough being state trooper Feb. 17 2003
Format:Hardcover
I love Stephen King's work. Not all of it: he himself has admitted that he has written some uninspiring stories, but this is not one of those. No, this story is tuff and very emotional from its powerful begining right up to its sad ending. It's a slow story--a sad story. It's the story of a family; not a regular family, but the family of highway patrol troop D; and its the story of the love and the anger that family members evoke from each other--King describes this with incredible sorrow. As i read this book i felt heavy hearted, down right sad--in a beautiful way, though. Imagine that. Told with unique perspective, there are six narrators--and each voice is strong save for Shirley's (it's with her where i find the only problem with the book--cliche female narration.)
Buick 8 has its fantasy elements, and they are fun, damn creepy at times; but the story shines brightest when Sandy Dearborne narrates--his anger with the young Ned Wilcox who is trying to deal with the greef of a fallen father (another State trooper named Curt) is painful. Sandy sees so much of Curt in Ned that it frustrates him to hell through high water because he sees the kid making the same mistakes that the father struggled with, and he's angry at Ned, and with Ned's father, but only because he loved Curt like a brother, and because he loves Ned like a nephew. And it is this conflict where we see King at his best, mirroring the emotion that we saw in Hearts in Atlantis and in The Green Mile. A beautiful story showing us that King is like a fine wine: gets better with age. Pick it up--it is well worth the price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice concept, but no substance May 14 2004
Format:Hardcover
I hate to agree with some of the other critics who say this book is too long and boring, but... it is.
I was able to hang in .. happily.. for the first 200 pages or so... but it gets old rather quickly. Most of the book is just a constant stream-of-conscience recollection of this evil Buick in a garage, and there are layers and layers of smarmy, state-troopers-are-a-family mentality. Which is all fine and dandy, but it's just not what one would expect from a Stephen King book.
King is a wonderfully talented author, of course, but-- unless you have a particular interest in state troopers, Pennsylvania, or vintage Buicks, I'd pass on this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not King's Best Work June 7 2004
By Rebecca
Format:Audio Cassette
I listened to the unabridged audiobook version of this book and was not terribly impressed. But it did have a sprinkling of classic King horror elements which kept me interested enough to finish the book.
Let's start with the negatives. To me, this novel felt a lot like a short story that had been drawn out with filler until it was long enough to be a novel. There were too many similar characters being developed, many of which were named and I could not be bothered to remember enough about their story to distinguish between anyone but the four or so main ones. Even when the lesser characters became the narrator of the story for a short while, to me they were still just one of a muddled group of not important State Troopers.
The biggest negative, in my mind, was with the main reader of this audiobook. His reading was extremely dry and ruined the story for me in several places. I think he may have been attempting to act, but to me the emphasis was unnaturally placed and sounded super-fake. I did enjoy the woman reader and most of the other male readers.
As for positives, the great thing about this book is that King did not fail to present us with what the majority of his readers really want: wierd and horrible things that we could not have imagined before. Also I liked the forshadowing of future wierd and horrible things that were going to happen later in the novel. This was all that kept me going through some of the duller plot areas, especially in the beginning. I was not going to stop listening then and miss out on this promised future wierd and horrible thing.
All in all it is worthwhile listening (or reading) this book for true King fans. Like the Buick 8, I think King is winding down these days. Faithful readers have to take what they can get, and I think the classic King horror elements of this book make it worth the time spent slogging through the slower parts at the beginning.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not King's Best
Slow moving story about a bunch of police officers who discover a mysterious alien Buick in western Pennsylvania. Read more
Published 3 months ago by David Cavaco
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic.
Very unusual storyline but had me involved from the first chapter. This book is extremely AWESOME!
I would recommend this to any King fan.
Published 9 months ago by christine
4.0 out of 5 stars For All the Explaining, Much is Unexplained
The "Buick 8" is a car kept in storage shed B behind the headquarters of Pennsylvania State Police Troop D headquarters. Read more
Published 18 months ago by John M. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible and Amazing...
When Ned Wilcox loses his father Curtis, a former Pennsylvania Trooper, he begins to hang around the barracks of Pennsylvania Troop D where his father spent so much of his time. Read more
Published on May 1 2009 by Jamieson Villeneuve
3.0 out of 5 stars Why a car?
I have read the book, and the story was not too bad, but like Hearts In Atlantis he (King) does not quite manage to bring the story anywhere, and this occures to you just after... Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by Pål Amundsen
2.0 out of 5 stars Not horribly interesting
I was somewhat disappointed in this book, it never seemed to really go anywhere and I kept waiting for something to actually happen. Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by "monkeedee2"
1.0 out of 5 stars His worst book ever
Having been a longtime fan of Stephen King, I was greatly disappointed in 'From A Buick 8'. The story was almost non-existent, the characters were poorly developed and there was no... Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by A reader
1.0 out of 5 stars zzzzzzzzz
I have read and enjoyed almost every book King his written. I managed to make it through 200 pages before I had to give up. Boring, pointless, unscary. Read more
Published on June 7 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars better than average
This book combines most of SK's strengths and manages to avoid his occasional weaknesses. It's a fairly short read; 400 pages in paperback, or about 3 hours all told. Read more
Published on June 5 2004 by W. Paul W.
2.0 out of 5 stars Little plot and lots of filler. In a word: Boring
This has to be one of the dumbest books ever written, and also one of the most boring. I'm listening to the audio version and I can barely get through it. Read more
Published on June 3 2004
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